Holder: There Are Times When I've Wanted To Just "Snap Back," "Be A Lot More Aggressive" With Opponents

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In an interview with MSNBC's Joy Reid in a replica of the bus Rosa Parks rode, Attorney General Eric Holder discussed the lack of respect shown by his political opponents and if a white attorney general would receive the same treatment as him.

"I can't look into the hearts and minds of people who have been, perhaps, my harshest critics," Holder said. "I think a large part of the criticism is political in nature. Whether there is a racial component or not, you know, I don't know."

"Do you feel you've been especially disrespected as attorney general?" Reid asked Holder.

"I think it's unfortunately part of Washington in 2014," Holder said. "I would hope that my successor would not have to endure some of the thing is did. I say endure only because I think I've shown respect where, perhaps, I haven't been given any."

Holder said there have been times when he "wanted to just snap back" and "be a lot more aggressive."

"There are times when I've wanted to just snap back," Attorney General Holder said. "There are occasions when I have. But there have been frequently more times when I've wanted to, you know, be a lot more aggressive in the responses that I've made."

JOY REID, MSNBC: And a lot of people, I think a lot of African-Americans have this feeling that, you know, black president, first African-American president, African-American attorney general, and they look at both of your relationships, let's say, with Congress and the sort of attitude toward the two of you from some members of Congress on the other side. White president, white attorney general, would there have been this tough, difficult of a relationship with Congress?

ERIC HOLDER, ATTORNEY GENERAL: Hard to say. I mean, you know, the attorney general seems to be of lately the person, whether you are white, black, Republican, Democrat, who catches a lot of grief. So, there is -- that's just a part of the position. I can't look into the hearts and minds of people who have been, perhaps, my harshest critics. I think a large part of the criticism is political in nature. Whether there is a racial component or not, you know, I don't know. I've tried to, you know, work may way through that and focus on the work. What is it that I can do as attorney general, with the power that I have as attorney general to make this country better and to deal with those racial issues I talked about in that speech back in 2009.

REID: I mean, but do you feel -- you've been very critical in a lot of ways of the way you've been treated by Congress, everything from Fast & Furious and all of these investigations, even threats that they would like to see you impeached, some members on the other side. Do you feel you've been especially disrespected as attorney general?

HOLDER: Well, you know, I think it's unfortunately part of Washington in 2014. I would hope that my successor would not have to endure some of the thing is did. I say endure only because I think I've shown respect where, perhaps, I haven't been given any. And I'm not necessarily -- I'm not wound that way. There are times when I've wanted to just snap back. There are occasions when I have. But there have been frequently more times when I've wanted to, you know, be a lot more aggressive in the responses that I've made.

So, you know, have I been treated well? It doesn't really matter. At the end of the day, people are not going to remember kind of some of the silly stuff that was thrown at me. What they're going to focus on are the accomplishments that the men and women of the Justice Department have made under my leadership over the last six years.

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